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 Post subject: Rubik's patents
PostPosted: Sun Apr 26, 2009 7:48 pm 
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As a public answer to private emails, Some interesting articles about the patent on the Rubik's cube.

Dr. BNPB can you simply explain "trade dress" to me?
http://www.cpaglobal.com/ip-review-online/3224/the_rubiks_cube

http://www.patentlyo.com/patent/2004/11/rubiks_cube_r_a.html

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 Post subject: Re: Rubik's patents
PostPosted: Sun Apr 26, 2009 9:33 pm 
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Trade dress is what a product looks like, and it doesn't expire. A fairly recognizable trade dress would be the Coca-Cola contour bottle. Other soda's can't make their bottles look like that, because it's infringing on a trademark (which doesn't expire as long as it's renewed).

There's probably many arguments on if changing the colors is enough to avoid the trademark, or if just putting pictures on the sides is required.

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 Post subject: Re: Rubik's patents
PostPosted: Sun Apr 26, 2009 10:27 pm 
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Thanks Bryan, now another question. I heard many years ago that companies like Xerox, Band-Aid, and Hoover lost their trademarks because they became household names. (was sex-wax inthat as well, or was it hang 10?) Would the same hold true then for Rubik's cubes? if this is indeed the case?

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 Post subject: Re: Rubik's patents
PostPosted: Sun Apr 26, 2009 10:42 pm 
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I would say no, because all of those mentioned are generalized things. Band-aids, are adhesive bandages, a Xerox is a photocopy, and Hoover is a vacum. Rubik's cubes are a *specific* puzzle. If it was just called "Twisty Puzzle" then I would reckon the same applys.

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 Post subject: Re: Rubik's patents
PostPosted: Sun Apr 26, 2009 10:52 pm 
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Yes, but if you go into a shop and ask for a twisty puzzle, do they know what you are talking about? I can go to China or Thailand, or Vietnam for that matter and ask for a Rubik's cube and get an original or a copy, a pyraminx, or even a magic--depending what is being sold. The name is symbolic for twisty puzzles.

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 Post subject: Re: Rubik's patents
PostPosted: Sun Apr 26, 2009 10:58 pm 
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Cubicle wrote:
I would say no, because all of those mentioned are generalized things. Band-aids, are adhesive bandages, a Xerox is a photocopy, and Hoover is a vacum. Rubik's cubes are a *specific* puzzle. If it was just called "Twisty Puzzle" then I would reckon the same applys.



Those terms are no more general than the word "Rubik's" to the general public. All the things Katsmom listed are specific brands just like Rubik's, but they're just very well known brands and it's easier to say band-aid than adhesive bandage.

Most people use the word "Rubik's Cube" to refer to any type of puzzle that twists, whether it is made by the Rubik's brand or even a cube.

I brought my megaminx to work soon after I got it and couldn't count the number of times people asked, "Whoa, is that a new Rubik's cube?" Same with my Golden Cube, at least this time it's a cube(or will be again if I ever figure it out)....

But my point is that I don't see how Rubik's is really more specific than Xerox.


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 Post subject: Re: Rubik's patents
PostPosted: Sun Apr 26, 2009 11:26 pm 
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Thank you Oogyboogawa that is exactly what I was getting at but you said it so much more plainly than I did.

I think it is only puzzle fiends that really know the difference, and even then some of us don't :oops: I was playing with a cubedron on the train and two University students started talking about the woman playing with "one of those Rubik's cube things"

Cubicle must be one of the younger members of the forum. I vaguely remember Xerox going through a suit on either trademark or patent and being turned down because it was a household name synonomous with photocopies. (and I'm pretty sure that happened when I was a lot younger)

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 Post subject: Re: Rubik's patents
PostPosted: Mon Apr 27, 2009 12:07 am 
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Perhaps I did not explain carefully enough.. So I decided to add a visual representation. This is mainly in reference to Band-aid. Please tell me if it doesn't make sense... I am rather tired.

Attachment:
rubikscomparison.jpg
rubikscomparison.jpg [ 101.29 KiB | Viewed 2362 times ]

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 Post subject: Re: Rubik's patents
PostPosted: Mon Apr 27, 2009 12:13 am 
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To you, and the rest of the people on this forum, you're right, that wouldn't be a Rubik's cube.

But my point was that I would be willing to bet money that if I took a pyraminx to work with me tomorrow, at least a dozen people would ask me questions about my new "Rubik's cube."

Yeah, you wouldn't call a pyraminx a Rubik's cube because you know there is a difference and you care that there is a difference, but most people don't care and would still call it a Rubik's cube.


Personally, I wouldn't call a tissue a Kleenex either unless it actually says Kleenex on the box, because I think it's silly to call something by a brand name if it's not made by that company... but that doesn't stop millions of other people from doing it.


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 Post subject: Re: Rubik's patents
PostPosted: Mon Apr 27, 2009 12:31 am 
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I googled this and found another interesting article, here's a clip

Some products which are still registered trademarks despite the assault on their names include AstroTurf, Baggies, Band-Aid, Beer Nuts, Breathalyzer, Brillo Pads, Dacron, Dumpster, Frisbee, Hi-Liter, Hula-Hoop, Jacuzzi, Jeep, Jell-O, Jockey Shorts, Kitty Litter, Kleenex, Laundromat, Liquid Paper, Magic Marker, Muzak, Novocain, Ping-Pong, Play-Doh, Popsicle, Post-it Note, Q-Tip, Realtor, Rollerblade, Scotch Tape, Scrabble, Seeing Eye (dog), Sheetrock, Slim Jim, Styrofoam, Super glue, Technicolor, Teflon, TelePrompTer, Vaseline, Velcro, and Walkman.

Words which have gone the way of "cola," that is, former trademarks that have been ruled (legally) descriptive words, and therefore, no longer owned by the companies or individuals who invented them, include aspirin, brassiere, cellophane, corn flakes, escalator, granola, gunk, heroin, jungle gym, kerosene, linoleum, raisin bran, shredded wheat, tabloid, thermos, touch-tone, trampoline, yo-yo, and zipper.

others include: coke, spandex, xerox, google. Sorry, I can't quote from Questria. The writer of the above two paragraphs mentions Richard Lederer's book Crazy English! A fantastic and funny read.

Oxford English Dictionary lists 9 of them: Hoover, Xerox, Thermos, Prozac, Spandex, Jello, Tampax, Band-Aid, Viagra

Sorry, haven't found Rubik's cube yet. :oops: :lol: Give me time, if it is out there I'll find it.
:oops: :oops:

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 Post subject: Re: Rubik's patents
PostPosted: Mon Apr 27, 2009 12:52 am 
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Huh... there's a handful of those that I didn't realize were trademarked names(i.e. dumpster and seeing eye). I guess it really says something about your product if it becomes so well incorporated into your customers' lives that it pretty much becomes a part of the language. But there's got to be a point where it stops being good if the people don't even realize that the name refers to your product specifically.



http://www.rubiks.com/Legal.aspx

It looks like the name itself is still trademarked at least. My guess would be that since it's actually a name, that would help them defend the trademark even more than if the name of the puzzle was a descriptive one. For example, if Rubik had decided to call his puzzle a Twisty Cube when he invented it, I think that trademark would be harder to defend... but I don't really have much basis for thinking that.


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 Post subject: Re: Rubik's patents
PostPosted: Mon Apr 27, 2009 12:54 am 
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http://books.google.com/books?id=aQ0RXEUd49MC&pg=PA93&lpg=PA93&dq=rubik's+cube+as+a+generic+name&source=bl&ots=arcxCEZOzl&sig=0CUVbv15uJjGSF4JiEeBYuy-opk&hl=en#PPA92,M1 see pages 90 to 99. an interesting read. If I read it correctly, the name wasn't "trademarked".

And to further this idea of Rubik's being a generic name, here is a message from an ebay seller of a sponge bob burgerking slide puzzle :
Quote:
Hello, Thank you for your bid on my other spongebob auction, Im sorry you didnt win this auction. I do have an extra rubiks cube if your interested in it. Or were you more interested in the magic ball or both items? I dont have an extra magic ball but I do have 1 I just bought for my daughters room recently. Please let me know and I'll add it to your box.

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 Post subject: Re: Rubik's patents
PostPosted: Mon Apr 27, 2009 1:26 am 
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Fascinating topic. When I have too much time on my hands and nothing to do I get fixated on things. Forgive me all but here is another one http://www.faqs.org/rulings/rulings2006HQW480158.html

some highlights:
Quote:
RE: Toysmith Magic Cube; Seven Towns’ Rubik’s Cube; U.S. Patent & Trademark Office Registration No. 1,265,094; U.S. Customs & Border Protection Recordation No. TMK 04-00292; Ruling Request


Quote:
Turning to the sample Magic Cubes at issue, both the Magic Cube and the Rubik’s Cube are three-dimensional puzzles consisting of nine color patches on each of the six faces, where the color patches on each face are the same color. But while the structural aspects of the Rubik’s Cube trademark, i.e. the number of faces and color patches, constitute important features of the mark, because the protected trademark is color specific, the color component of the trademark must be given appropriate consideration.

Although the structural aspects of the protected Rubik’s Cube and Magic Cube are similar, each of the colors used on the Magic Cube, from the cube itself to the colors on the faces, substantially differ from those used in the Rubik’s Cube trademark. For example, sample 1 is a white cube, sample 2 is a red cube, sample 3 is a bright green cube, and sample 4 is a grey cube. None of the four samples include a black cube, as in the protected mark. Furthermore, in sample 1, the only color found in the Rubik’s Cube mark is yellow. In sample 2, the common colors are white and yellow. In sample 3, the common colors are orange and yellow. Every other color is different. Although sample 4 includes the colors blue, green, and yellow, also found in the Rubik’s Cube mark, these colors are integrated into a reflective laser-cut design and, therefore, sample 4 is distinguishable.

Because the four Magic Cube samples consist of different colors from the protected mark, both on the cube itself as well as on almost all of their faces, they are unlikely to confuse consumers. Therefore, none of the four Magic Cube samples infringe the protected Rubik’s Cube trademark.

HOLDING:

Based on the foregoing, none of the Magic Cube samples infringe the Rubik’s Cube design trademark (USPTO Registration No. 1,265,094; CBP Recordation No. TMK 04-00292).


Which says to my simple brain that any puzzle can be copied if the trademark (provided there is one) is color specific. So if I've read this correctly, even though our copies are copies, as long as the colors are different, they are not necessarily illegal :?

Ok, I need to go find something else to do now.

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 Post subject: Re: Rubik's patents
PostPosted: Mon Apr 27, 2009 1:57 am 
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and here is the Rubik's cube in OED online:

Quote:
Rubik('s) cube: a puzzle consisting of a cube seemingly formed by 27 smaller cubes, uniform in size but of various colours, each layer of nine or eight smaller cubes being capable of rotation in its own plane; the task is to restore each face of the cube to a single colour after the uniformity has been destroyed by rotation of the various layers.


megaminx, pyraminx, skewb are not to be found.

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 Post subject: Re: Rubik's patents
PostPosted: Mon Apr 27, 2009 3:05 am 
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I may be able to help clarify as I know quite a bit about intellectual property. Essentially there are several ways by which a company can protect the identity of its products:

Patents - includes only the novel technical functional features of a product, i.e., how a product works
Design patent - how a product looks (unique designs, shapes, colours, etc.)
Trademark - recognizable brands, names, logos, slogans, symbols, and special shapes or colours associated with a company or product
Copyright - any form of information and how it is stored and displayed (e.g., printed material, software, music, films, etc.)

Unlike Trademark which can last forever, or Copyright which can last 50 years beyond the life of the author, Patents and Design Patents last only 20 years. The patents for Rubik's Cube expired a few years ago, so Seven Towns (the company that owns and markets Rubik's Cube) have to rely on their trademark and copyright only to protect their Rubik's brand and product. Thus, while the mechanism itself is no longer protected by patents, the trademark still protects the Rubik's brand and the overall iconic appearance of the Rubik's Cube, which includes its basic shape and colours (and possibly even its basic shape alone, regardless of the colours).

So, if you want to do something commercial in this area, you must not refer to Rubik's brand, and you should also do everything you can to avoid including physical features that resemble the original Rubik's Cube - the more similar it looks, the more problems you may have. It's fine if other people refer to your puzzle as a new kind of "Rubik's Cube", but you can't do that yourself if and when you try to sell it.

For example, the general public may still refer to a Canon phtotcopier as a "Xerox machine", but Canon could never do so itself (not that it would want to) without infringeing Xerox trademark. Same story with Hoover, Band Aid and any other trademark.

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Last edited by KelvinS on Mon Apr 27, 2009 4:58 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Rubik's patents
PostPosted: Mon Apr 27, 2009 4:02 am 
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So then what you are saying is I can make all the copys of Rubik's cubes I want and as long as I call it Rox's cube and not Rubik's cube I'm not violating the trade mark or copyright?

Looking into a lot of court cases today, I have come to decide it all boils down to one person and his mood that day. The judge. A case in England says it's not a violation the same week a case in the States says it is. And vica versa.

If say Ideal were to take me to court for my Rox's Cube, the based on the above ruling, as long as I changed a color, or the shape of the stickers, or the base color of the cube, I would be safe. Seems like a pretty weak law to me. It's not nearly as strickt as I thought it was.

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 Post subject: Re: Rubik's patents
PostPosted: Mon Apr 27, 2009 4:23 am 
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katsmom wrote:
So then what you are saying is I can make all the copys of Rubik's cubes I want and as long as I call it Rox's cube and not Rubik's cube I'm not violating the trade mark or copyright?

Looking into a lot of court cases today, I have come to decide it all boils down to one person and his mood that day. The judge. A case in England says it's not a violation the same week a case in the States says it is. And vica versa.

If say Ideal were to take me to court for my Rox's Cube, the based on the above ruling, as long as I changed a color, or the shape of the stickers, or the base color of the cube, I would be safe. Seems like a pretty weak law to me. It's not nearly as strickt as I thought it was.


No, that's definitely NOT what I'm saying. In fact these things are never clear cut (hence the discrepancy between the UK and US cases), but the more you change the name and appearance from the original Rubik's Cube, then the safer you are. For example, "Rox's Cube" still sounds quite similar to Rubik's Cube, both starting with R and including the "x" sound. Also, changing only one colour, or only the shape, or only one other feature will probably mean it still looks similar to the original, and so could be judged as infringeing Rubik's trademark IF the prosecuting attorney is any good and makes a strong case (as in the US case, but apparently not the UK case).

That's why in my puzzle I decided to change as many features as I possibly could, to make it look distinctive and avoid potential litigation: all the blocks of my Qubami puzzle are rounded (rounded corners, rounded edges and rounded circular faces) instead of cubic (pointy corners, straight edges and flat square faces) and have just 3 metallic colours (yellow, magenta and cyan) with black symbols, instead of 6 plain colours with no symbols. Even a blind person could easily tell the difference, while the name Qubami sounds nothing like Rubik's Cube, and that's important when you're trying to build your own distinctive brand.

In fact I also registered my design, so that a qualified examiner had to decide and declare that the two designs are substantially different and distinguishable. Hopefully this will discourage and weaken any potential infringement suit, but there's no guarantee since anyone can sue if they feel they might have a case. Just as important, however, it means that nobody will be able to copy these unique features of my own design described above...

The key is to understand these laws and make them work FOR you rather than against you!

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 Post subject: Re: Rubik's patents
PostPosted: Tue Apr 28, 2009 4:10 pm 
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Thanks Kelvin for the excellent explanation.
I would have liked to say something like that, but I wouldn't have been able to put it such a nice and proper way.

So basically all 3x3x3 NOT made/licensed by Rubik's are considered to be a knockoff - at least within the EU.
I haven't seen mentioning this earlier, but it is relevant to this topic:
http://www.shieldmarkzacco.nl/Nieuws/?id=41&lang=en
PDF version (1st page, top)
http://www.shieldmarkzacco.nl/uploads/nieuwsbrieven/37EN.pdf

So shouldn't eventually this make into knockoff policy as well?


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 Post subject: Re: Rubik's patents
PostPosted: Tue Apr 28, 2009 4:28 pm 
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Hi All.
Because of my job (and this is something that 2 persons in here know , and are not allowed to give more details),I know more than everyone regarding the patent,copyright or what ever else about Rubik's.
Because also people is confused , I F.Y.I can just post the following about the patent's issue

The trademark is not restricted to the name Rubik appearing on it or if the item bears different graphics or has a different construction but protects the 3d object itself.


Hope that will help you the most...............it is part of the Official files about Rubik's patent, trademark, copyright etc. etc.


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 Post subject: Re: Rubik's patents
PostPosted: Tue Apr 28, 2009 5:53 pm 
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OK, just to be absolutely clear on this let me quote the most important part from my last message:
Kelvin Stott wrote:
these things are never clear cut ... but the more you change the name and appearance from the original Rubik's Cube, then the safer you are!

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